England vs Croatia

World Cup 2018: Croatia v England – all you need to know about the semi-final

World Cup semi-final: Croatia v England
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow Date: Wednesday, 11 July (19:00 BST)
Coverage: Full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, text commentary, report and highlights on BBC Sport app and online

The last time England were in a World Cup semi-final, Croatia were yet to gain independence. That happened a year later.

Now the two sides are preparing to meet in the last four of the tournament on Wednesday, with Croatia hoping to reach the final for the first time and England hoping to end a 52-year wait to return.

BBC Sport takes a look at what we know about the Croats and the threat they will pose.

When Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic took charge in 2017, he faced the dilemma of how best to fit Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic – two of the world’s best midfielders – into the same team effectively.

He has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation in the main, with Modric in the number 10 role.

Although playing further forward than he does for Real Madrid means Modric is involved less in the build-up than he is for his club, his influence is still huge – witnessed by his goal-scoring performance in the 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stages.

Modric touched the ball 62 times and made only 42 passes in that match but in the quarter-final win against Russia he was deployed further back, and had 139 touches and made 102 passes.

That did however mean Rakitic was a less influential figure, but if the two dovetail on Wednesday, England are likely to be starved of the ball.

In addition to Modric and Rakitic, there is high-level experience throughout Croatia’s team, with many of the players at Europe’s elite clubs, including Liverpool, AC Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.

They have won nine Champions Leagues between them, compared to England’s one, and 11 of the 23-man squad have 40 caps or more.

Most of this team have been together for a decade, with key players such as Modric, Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic all making their debuts within a couple of years of each other in 2006 and 2007.

“What I adore about them the most is their commitment to the national jersey,” said Tomislav Dasovic of Vecernji List newspaper.

The feeling in Croatia is they are now at their peak as a team – and have never been happier as a group.

“They are good mates off the pitch, but most importantly they believe in the coach,” added Dasovic. “He knows how to speak to them, he knows their DNA.”

While England left Euro 2016 embarrassed by Iceland, Croatia departed wondering what might have been.

They lost a tight last-16 tie against Portugal by conceding the only goal of the game at the end of extra time in a match in which they had the majority of possession and had 17 shots to their opponents’ six.

Had they won, Poland and Wales would have stood between Croatia and a final against host nation France.

Their gutsy displays in this World Cup against Denmark and Russia – Modric missed a late penalty against the former and Croatia conceded a late equaliser against the latter but went on to win both games on penalties – speak of a side with a strong character which is determined to make the most of their opportunity this time.

Who will strike the latest blow?

This will be the eighth meeting between the two sides, with England winning four, Croatia twice and one draw.

They have only met in a major tournament once, at Euro 2004, when England’s then teenage striker Wayne Rooney scored twice.

Croatia got their revenge during Euro 2008 qualifying as they won 3-2 at Wembley as England failed to reach the finals in a match remembered for boss Steve McClaren sheltering from the rain under an umbrella.

Two years later, Theo Walcott’s only international hat-trick came against Croatia as England qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

In this World Cup, Croatia topped their group with a 100% winning record ahead of Argentina, but have scraped through knockout games against Denmark and the hosts via penalties.

“We have worked through difficult matches, some of them better than others,” said Dalic.

“We respect England, we are a bit anxious because they are a great team. But England are not better than us! We respect them – they are a young and promising team. They are a very difficult opponent.

“We are happy with what we have achieved so far. We are among the four best teams in the world. We have nothing but respect for England, Belgium and France, but none of these teams is better than us.”

I was at both of Croatia’s matches in the knockout stages, and they have got quality in all the most important positions in their team.

We know all about Modric and Rakitic in the heart of their midfield but they are also dangerous on the flanks and, at the back, Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida have been solid as well.

I don’t think there is any argument that Croatia are a step up in class to any other team England have played in Russia – ignoring the meaningless game against Belgium.

But they have had extra time and penalties in their last two matches and some of their players looked absolutely exhausted near the end of their win over Russia.

Striker Mandzukic was one of them, and I think he is a very interesting player. He often plays on the left of a front three for Juventus, but plays up front in a central role for Croatia.

Against Denmark and Russia he disappeared for long spells, and you would find him wandering around on the right side of midfield. I was thinking ‘what is he doing there?’

It has worked for Croatia so far of course, and they showed what they can do to a team that opens up against them when they destroyed Argentina in the group stage, but I think this is a game England can win.

And finally… history repeats itself

Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti described national team manager Zlatko Dalic as “the most popular man in the country” on Monday.

Dalic is a modest coach – quiet and keen to avoid words that might trip him up.

He was born in Bosnia but now has a Croatian passport.

In 1998 when Croatia also reached the last four of the World Cup they were coached by Miroslav Blazovic, who was also born in Bosnia. Croatia fans will hope this version can go one step further.

Argentina vs France

Argentina vs. France World Cup live stream info, channel, news: How to watch Russia 2018 on TV, online

Click Here To Watch Now

The 2018 World Cup’s round of 16 begins on Saturday, and it kicks off with a huge clash. It’s Argentina vs. France in Kazan with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. It’s Lionel Messi and company against Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and a talented French team.
More World Cup

Power Rankings: France 7th; Argentina 8th
Bracket predictions and upsets
Round of 16 matches, ranked
Complete Russia 2018 schedule

France vs Argentina World Cup live

The South Americans enter this match with confidence after finally getting a win. They opened with a draw to Iceland and a loss to Croatia, but a late Marcos Rojo goal against Nigeria gave them the win that secured second place in Group D. As for the French, they won Group C with two wins and a draw but haven’t been all that impressive either. They struggled to beat Australia and won on an own goal, they beat Peru 1-0 but were outplayed, and they took it easy against Denmark in the last match for a 0-0 draw that benefited both.

France will likely go with Olivier Giroud in attack to have a target man, but don’t be surprised if they instead opt for more speed in the final third. As for Argentina, who knows what we’ll see from them. The expectation is a back four, but the big question is whether Cristian Pavon will get his first start in the tournament after impressing during all of his group stage appearances in Russia.

When it comes to the history of these two teams, they have met twice in the past at the World Cup, both wins for Argentina, with three goals for the South Americans and one of the Europeans. A 1-0 win for Argentina at the 1930 World Cup, and a 2-1 Argentina win in the 1978 tournament.

Here’s how you can watch the match and more. And be sure to return a half an hour before kickoff for our live blog of the game:
How to watch Argentina vs. France

When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
Where: Kazan Arena
TV: Fox and Telemundo
Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App

SportsLine odds

Who wins France-Argentina? And where does all the value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see the Soccerbot’s exclusive recommendation, all from the model that keeps crushing sportsbooks with its international soccer picks and is up a colossal 1,800 percent.
Argentina vs. France prediction

Argentina puts together its second straight performance, leaving an unorganized France team out of the cup thanks to a late Sergio Aguero goal. Argentina 2, France 1.

France vs Argentina

France vs Argentina World Cup live stream info, channel, news: How to watch Russia 2018 on TV, online

Click Here To Watch Now

The 2018 World Cup’s round of 16 begins on Saturday, and it kicks off with a huge clash. It’s Argentina vs. France in Kazan with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. It’s Lionel Messi and company against Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and a talented French team.
More World Cup

Power Rankings: France 7th; Argentina 8th
Bracket predictions and upsets
Round of 16 matches, ranked
Complete Russia 2018 schedule

France vs Argentina World Cup live

The South Americans enter this match with confidence after finally getting a win. They opened with a draw to Iceland and a loss to Croatia, but a late Marcos Rojo goal against Nigeria gave them the win that secured second place in Group D. As for the French, they won Group C with two wins and a draw but haven’t been all that impressive either. They struggled to beat Australia and won on an own goal, they beat Peru 1-0 but were outplayed, and they took it easy against Denmark in the last match for a 0-0 draw that benefited both.

France will likely go with Olivier Giroud in attack to have a target man, but don’t be surprised if they instead opt for more speed in the final third. As for Argentina, who knows what we’ll see from them. The expectation is a back four, but the big question is whether Cristian Pavon will get his first start in the tournament after impressing during all of his group stage appearances in Russia.

When it comes to the history of these two teams, they have met twice in the past at the World Cup, both wins for Argentina, with three goals for the South Americans and one of the Europeans. A 1-0 win for Argentina at the 1930 World Cup, and a 2-1 Argentina win in the 1978 tournament.

Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Here’s how you can watch the match and more. And be sure to return a half an hour before kickoff for our live blog of the game:
How to watch Argentina vs. France

When: Saturday at 10 a.m. ET
Where: Kazan Arena
TV: Fox and Telemundo
Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

SportsLine odds

Who wins France-Argentina? And where does all the value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see the Soccerbot’s exclusive recommendation, all from the model that keeps crushing sportsbooks with its international soccer picks and is up a colossal 1,800 percent.
Argentina vs. France prediction

Argentina puts together its second straight performance, leaving an unorganized France team out of the cup thanks to a late Sergio Aguero goal. Argentina 2, France 1.